Intestinal parasites are worms that spend at least part of their life cycle in the human intestine. Common intestinal worms include tapeworms and roundworms, such as ascarids, hookworms, pinworms, Guinea worms, threadworms and whipworms. You can become infected with these parasites if you travel to areas with poor sanitation, walk barefoot on infested soil or eat food that isn’t fully cooked. Herbs that kill or expel these parasites are potent and should be used with care.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium. A. annua) makes a bitter tea that, as its name suggests, has traditionally been used to eliminate intestinal worms. Wormwood leaf contains potent plant chemicals that are active against a variety of intestinal parasites. In his book, “Medical Herbalism: the Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine,” herbalist David Hoffmann recommends wormwood for roundworm and pinworm. Make a tea from dried wormwood leaf or take the tincture, but do not drink any wormwood essential oil product. Do not take wormwood if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Aloe (Aloe vera) is a potent purgative. Take this remedy as a juice, powder, gel or tablet for any type of intestinal parasite. Do not take aloe if you are pregnant because it may cause vomiting. Consult a doctor before giving aloe to children or the elderly.
Male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) is one of the most powerful anti-parasitic herbs for tapeworms. While effective, herbalist David Hoffmann warns that male fern can be poisonous if you take too high a dose. Take this herb only under supervision of an experienced medical professional. Do not take male fern if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or anemic, or if you have a liver or intestinal disorder.
Epazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides) is a plant native to Mexico and Central and South America. In her book “The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs: A Guide to Understanding and Using Herbal Medicinals,” Leslie Taylor states that indigenous groups have used epazote to cure intestinal parasites, especially tapeworms, hookworms and roundworms. Make a tea from the dried leaf and drink it in ½-cup doses. Do not drink any epazote essential oil product or any tea made from the seeds because the seeds contain significant amounts of the toxic essential oil.
Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a traditional treatment for tapeworm. Its bark contains an alkaloid called pelletierine that has a paralytic effect on the parasite, making it easy to expel. According to herbalist Henriette Kress, you can prepare the bark as a tea and drink it for several days, until the entire parasite is expelled. Take a laxative before and during this process to aid in eliminating the tapeworm. Pomegranate bark may cause vomiting and, in high doses, it will depress the central nervous system. Consult an herbalist or medical professional before taking pomegranate bark. Do not take this herb if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- “Medical Herbalism: the Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine”; David Hoffmann; 2003.
- “The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs: A Guide to Understanding and Using Herbal Medicinals”; Leslie Taylor, ND; 2005.
- Henriette's Herbal Homepage
Janet Contursi has been a writer and editor for more than 23 years. She has written for professional journals and newspapers, and has experience editing educational, cultural, and business articles and books. Her clients include Gale Publishers, Anaxos, Vielife and Twin Cities Wellness. Contursi earned her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, where she studied cultural anthropology, South Asian languages and culture, and art history.